Harlem barber moves a few doors down after 30 years

December 29, 2011 2:24:53 PM PST
An East Harlem barbershop is on the move, but not closing.

The long-time barber was about to lose his shop because the rent was going up, but a nearby doctor who recently bought a walk-up came to the rescue.

"This is my life, since the first day I came from Italy, I came to work, this is the chair, this is the chair believe me," said Claudio Caponigro.

Caponigro has been coming for 60 years, where this spirited grandfather has literally shaped people's lives.

"When you give a cut the day they were born or a year old and they're still with you at 50 years old, I must be doing something right," he adds.

He's talking about James Piscano, got his first hair cut here when he was one years old.

"The guy is an icon here, he should stay here," he said.

A rough but charming barber shop on 116 street, where Claudio keeps things simple.

The last few months have been anything but, the 80 year old has been in court battling his new landlord, who wanted James out by the end of the year.

His rent has increased in the last few years and then he was told he must move to make room for a new Chinese restaurant.

But everything changed when Alex Greenstein, a surgeon at Mount Sinai, bought this building just a few doors down.

Suddenly Claudio had a new place to lay his scissors. Alex offered to rent his ground floor unit to Claudio.

"I think it's a nice way to help continue a tradition that's been here for a long time and give a little back to the community but at the same time it made good business sense," said Dr. Greenstein.

Claudio has just about finished moving in, though this space is a bit smaller, he hopes his loyal customers, like Congressman Charlie Rangel, will feel right at home.

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